A Mexican Food Lover’s Guide to New Paltz


If you’re craving a burrito, a tostada, or even a frothy tequila cocktail, New Paltz might not be the first town that comes to mind. But the seven Mexican restaurants and Latin eateries in this town of nearly 14,000 people make New Paltz’s Mexican fare offering more plentiful than most other Hudson Valley towns that don’t even have a taqueria. in their name. Logic; college students and affordable Mexican food tend to be a good choice. If you have time to taste them all, go for it. But if you’re looking to pick one to suit your needs, here’s an unofficial guide.

Los Jalapenos has had ample room for in-person dining and an extensive kids’ menu since 2015. The house-made hibiscus juice pairs well with large plates of standard dishes – flautas, fajitas and chile rellenos, all made from from zero. Several traditional Mexican dishes are also offered, such as molcajete, a dish of chicken, shrimp and spicy sausage with vegetables in a creamy chipotle tomato sauce. The specialties section of the menu also offers more interesting possibilities, such as mole jumpsuit and tres leches cake.

25 N Chestnut St, New Paltz 12561; (845) 255-9000; losjalapenosnewpaltz.com

Solid takeaways: Mexican food

Despite much grumbling when Mexican Kitchen changed hands, it remains one of the most popular places to go for takeout.

Mexican cuisine

When ownership of Mexican Kitchen changed hands in April 2020, one of the city’s notoriously grumpy Facebook pages went wild with complaints. Although the menu remained largely the same, townspeople were miffed that their beloved recipes were ruined, onions appeared in unusual places, the quality of the salsa declined, and there was an overall blandness. . Well, that doesn’t seem to have done anything for business! Although the dining room recently reopened, the space is small and better suited to takeout, and order times are generally long. Everything from tacos to breakfast burritos and, of course, Jarrito sodas, all remain favorites of New Paltz locals and students alike – a fairly rare crossover of these culinary communities.

15-1/2 N Front St, New Paltz 12561; (845) 256-5070; mexicankitchennp.squarespace.com

The Best East Coast (Or Maybe Not) Tacos: Mexicali Blue

This hole in the center of the wall (really just a door, cashier and kitchen on the busiest part of Main Street) has been a New Paltz mainstay for many years. years (its flagship Wappingers Falls opened in 2003). Burritos and tacos are the main draw here, although there are plenty of other things on the menu. For years, its fame with SUNY residents, tourists and students was that documentary filmmaker and former chef Anthony Bourdain once ate there and reportedly proclaimed their tacos to be the best on the East Coast. Well, until Bourdain realized they were saying that and ended it via Twitter.

What appears to be true is that Bourdain ate a fish taco there while filming a TV show (their footage never aired) and the owner says he heard Bourdain, who was apparently drinking, utter these words. Who knows what really happened, but also who cares; New Paltzians love this place and the burritos are big, hot and nicely wrapped in foil. For the record, management says their Southwestern/California style cuisine is always fresh, never frozen or reheated.

87 Main St, New Paltz 12561; (845) 255-5551; mexicali-blue.com

For children: Burrito Burrito

This takeout spot is on a prime stretch of Main Street. There are chicken and bacon burritos, BBQ chicken burritos and soft tacos to appeal to kids of all ages – middle school smokers and picky 5-year-olds. Wash down an empanada or maybe a decidedly un-Mexican “cheese loaded potato bowl” and fried Oreos with a Mexican sprite. It’s all in the mix, right?

60 Main St, New Paltz 12561; (845) 256-0101; burritoburritonewpaltz.com

The Real Deal: La Charla

La Charla's chef is originally from Oaxaca, and specialties from the region like mole fill the menu.

La Charla’s chef is originally from Oaxaca, and specialties from the region like mole fill the menu.

The Charla

When La Charla first opened, it was immediately clear that the food at this family-run business was different from neighboring rice and bean Tex-Mex joints. La Charla’s menu features some of the most authentic Mexicans, including their salsas. That’s thanks to chef Tina Chavez, originally from Oaxaca. The recipes are his; she learned to cook with her grandmother and her mother. There are tacos with Oaxacan-style grasshoppers or grilled cactus, or diners can stick to chicken and fried cod. For those who only fancy a drink and a bite, the bar menu is extensive with a wide variety of tequilas to choose from, and the guacamole is amply sized. And there are nibble sides, too, including elote (grilled corn) and plantains, at the cheerfully decorated bar.

But no one could have known that this bar would become the center of a resistance where many New Paltz citizens rallied when Chavez’s husband, Luis Martinez, a longtime resident and business owner, was detained by ICE in 2019. Many gathered at the restaurant to write letters or support the company by eating and drinking here. Martinez was eventually released, not deported.

127 Main St, New Paltz 12561; (845) 633-8276; lacharlarestaurant.com

New kid on the block: Guac Taco & Tequila Bar

Guac Taco & Tequila Bar offers vegan options like a bowl of guacamole rice alongside meaty entrees like carne asada — and a rainbow of margaritas.

Guac Taco & Tequila Bar offers vegan options like a bowl of guacamole rice alongside meaty entrees like carne asada — and a rainbow of margaritas.

Taco bar and tequila with guac

The new Mexican spot of New Paltz recently opened its doors next to the post office and a laundromat. Its name and bright decor say it all. Their Instagram feed is filled with fun drinks in capital F (a glass skull filled with bright blue liquid and a garnish of pineapple frond and maraschino cherry! an intermittent DJ.

For food, there’s of course guacamole and tacos (don’t miss the Tuesday tacos with $4 beers all day), but also churros, grilled corn, chicken pozole, chimichangas and more. again. They manage to differentiate themselves in a crowded market, which is saying a lot.

45 Main St., New Paltz, 12561; (845) 419-2789; guactacoandtequilabar.com

The other side of the slopes: Órale Mexico

New Paltz is larger than its rambling main street, stretching west and east on either side of the River Walkill. For residents west of the Thruway, away from the pedestrian bustle of the city, Órale is the Mexican go-to. It’s a real self-contained building with parking, not just a small take-out outlet. You’ll find a full range of Mexican favorites here: tacos, empanadas, chimichangas (they also make dessert versions), tamales, sandwiches, burritos, fajitas, flautas, carne asada, and more. Portions are large.

11 Old Route 299, New Paltz 12561; (845) 255-0220; oralmexico.business.site

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